With the flurry of favorable court rulings on marriage in July and August, little attention has been given to an important marriage case, Lewis v. Harris, pending before the New Jersey Supreme Court (NJSC).
New Jersey does not require couples to have New Jersey residency before obtaining a marriage license. Thus, if the NJSC legalizes homosexual “marriage,” which is not unlikely given the court’s radical record, homosexual couples from any state will come to New Jersey to obtain marriage licenses and then return to their home states to challenge existing marriage laws. Challenges to marriage laws are also pending in Maryland, California, and several other states.
Although Massachusetts in 2004 was the first state to officially legalize homosexual “marriage,” its laws contained a blessed restraint. Couples actually have to live in Massachusetts. But a pro-homosexual ruling from New Jersey would remove such a road block.
At the national level, a proposed federal constitutional amendment has been defeated in Congress twice in both houses.
"Those in Congress who are excusing their failure to begin the amendment process until the federal DOMA is struck down remind me of the uninsured homeowner whose house is ablaze and he decides to call an insurance agent," said Jan LaRue, CWA's chief counsel.
If New Jersey’s court does strike down the marriage law, it would fly in the face of rulings from all over the country, as well as elections and legislative actions that boosted to 45 the number of states with strengthened marriage laws. Twenty states have enacted constitutional amendments, with an average of 70 percent of voters approving the measures.
In New York, the state’s highest court upheld New York’s marriage law, stating clearly that defense of marriage is not bigotry.
Georgia’s highest court overturned a county judge’s ruling that the marriage amendment passed by 77 percent of voters was unconstitutional.
In Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court upheld the legality of a state constitutional marriage amendment proposed for the 2008 ballot.
Connecticut’s Superior Court upheld as constitutional the state’s law defining marriage as only the union of a man and a woman.
In Tennessee, a state court rejected a challenge to keep off the 2006 ballot a proposed constitutional amendment. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal judge’s ruling that Nebraska’s constitutional marriage amendment was unconstitutional.
Washington’s state Supreme Court recently upheld the state’s marriage law.
In Arizona, a superior court allowed a marriage amendment to be included on the November 7th ballot.
Will New Jersey’s court carve out a place on the fringe?
“I spent my childhood in New Jersey, which seemed like a pretty normal place at the time,” said Robert Knight, director of CWA’s Culture and Family Institute. “I would hope that some of the common sense that I saw in the average Garden State citizen would be reflected in this court, despite their recent track record.”
Family activists across the country should follow the Lewis v. Harris decision closely and if the NJSC legalizes “gay marriage,” urge their legislators to pass a state marriage amendment if none currently exists.